A Resource for Nannies and Families

Nanny Definitions

While the general term “nanny” refers to a person caring for children in her employer’s home, other terms — based on education, duties, hours worked, and whether she lives in your home or her own — are more specific.
The following definitions are expanded from the list published by the International Nanny Association.


Provides supervisory, custodial care of children on an irregular, full-time or part-time basis. May range from a neighbor child who enjoys playing with your children to an older woman whose children are grown and gone.

Au Pair (Foreign)

Foreign national in the United States for up to a year to experience American life. Lives as part of the host’s family, receiving a small stipend in exchange for baby-sitting and help with homework. May or may not have previous child care experience. A limited number of Au Pair organizations are licensed by the United States Information Agency, with supportive programs generally based on the model of student exchange. However the term applies also to independent foreign youngsters working informally in the U.S. on tourist or student visas.

Parent/Mother’s Helper

Generally provides full-time help with child care and domestic duties for families in which one or more parent is at home most of the time. May have full responsibility for children for brief periods. May or may not live with the family. May or may not have previous child care experience.


Employed by the family on a live-in or live-out basis to undertake any or all tasks related to care of the family’s children. Duties are generally restricted to child care and the domestic tasks related to child care. Child care includes children’s social, emotional and cognitive development (National Association of Nannies). Depending on her job description, domestic tasks may range from maintenance of the children’s rooms to sewing on their buttons and organizing their closets to shopping for their clothing and birthday parties. May or may not have had nanny training but may have some college including Early Childhood courses. May work full-time or part time. May work with a child of any age.

Nursery Nurse

Title used in Great Britain for a person who has received special training and preparation in caring for young children, in or out of the home. When employed by the family, may live in or out. Works independently and is responsible for everything related to the care of the children in her charge. Duties are generally restricted to child care and the domestic tasks related to child care. Work week is typically 50-60 hours. In addition to specialized training, the nursery nurse will also have successfully passed the British certification examination of the Nursery Nurse Examination Board (NNEB).


Traditionally an educated person employed by a family for the full- or part-time at-home education of school age children. Functions as a teacher and is not typically concerned with domestic work or the physical care of younger children. Hours of work by arrangement.

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